As Texas’ 85th Legislative Session begins this week, it was Monday’s release of the official Revenue Estimate from Comptroller Glenn Hegar that set the financial table for work in Austin.
The press called Hegar’s estimate “dour” among other things but as a taxpayer I find it anything but. It’s dour if you are one who believes state government needs to keep growing and spending more of the peoples’ money.
Frankly, the ability to predict the price of oil two and half years out as well as general economic growth is beyond anyone but, to have a balanced budget we must estimate what coming revenues are expected to be.
On Pratt on Texas Monday, Comptroller Hegar pointed out that the Rainy Day Fund is healthy and that some of the revenue shortage legislators will face is due to our move to dedicate some to transportation. Also Hegar made it clear that while growth in the Texas economy had slowed due to downturns in the energy industry, the state did not suffer the same net economic contraction as did other energy states.
Audio: Glenn Hegar interview on Pratt on Texas
“We are projecting overall revenue growth,” Hegar said in his Monday presser. “Such growth, however, is more than offset” by the demands of the state highway fund and other dedicated funds.
The Legislature will have 2.7% less of general, non-dedicated revenue to spend than it did last session. This frustrates the spend-more crowd and certainly there are issues with state government which need more funding. However, what this budget vice does is force lawmakers to prioritize better and move money from less important functions to those of higher need.